New York hospital settles claims it released PHI to media outlet

HHS has disclosed a settlement agreement with Yonkers, N.Y.-based Saint Joseph's Medical Center related to the unauthorized release of protected health information of COVID-19 patients to a national media outlet. 

The settlement comes after HHS' Office for Civil Rights probed Saint Joseph's Medical Center following an Associated Press article detailing the medical center's COVID-19 response. The article, featuring photos and patient details, nationally exposed protected health information, encompassing COVID-19 diagnoses, medical statuses, prognoses, vital signs and treatment plans.

The investigation found that Saint Joseph's Medical Center disclosed protected health information of three patients to the Associated Press without obtaining written authorization, potentially infringing upon the HIPAA Privacy Rule, according to a Nov. 20 news release from the HHS.

Under the settlement, Saint Joseph's Medical Center has remitted $80,000 to OCR and committed to executing a corrective action plan. This plan mandates the development of written policies and procedures aligning with the HIPAA Privacy Rule. 

Additionally, Saint Joseph's Medical Center has agreed to conduct training for its workforce on the updated policies and procedures. As part of the agreement, OCR will oversee Saint Joseph's Medical Center for a two-year period to verify adherence to the plan and legal compliance.


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